Audience invited to spin wheel of songs
Elvis Costello spun the wheel Saturday on his 35-year music career.
The British singer-songwriter stuffed as many songs as he could into the two-plus hours he was on stage at Caesars Windsor's Colosseum. The concert was sold out.
Going right back to the start and his ballad Alison, Costello and his band, The Imposters, performed many of the songs he's famous for, plus some intriguing and unexpected covers.
He opened the show with a non-stop four-spot of I Hope You're Happy Now, Heart of the City, Mystery Dance and Radio Radio.
Then he turned to the gimmick that has made his last couple of tours unusual - the Spinning Songbook, a large wheel with titles of songs, themes and albums on it. Invited audience members came up and spun it to determine the next few numbers.
Costello acted as a game show host named Napoleon Dynamite, which elicited a welcome cheer from the crowd.
In typical Costello style, most of the songs were short and to the point. There were some notable exceptions, like I Want You, from the Blood and Chocolate album. The slashing guitar solos by Costello and the echoey vocals were underpinned by Steve Nieve's luscious keyboards.
That formula also worked beautifully on Watch Your Step later in the show.
Costello is blessed, and has been fortunate throughout his career, to have backup musicians and longtime musical associates who know his music nearly as intimately as he does. Nieve and drummer Pete Thomas have been with him since the beginning, while bass player and vocalist Davey Faragher, a founding member of Cracker, has been in the band for 11 years.
While favourites like Less Than Zero, Pump It Up and Man Out of Time were crowd-pleasers, the many cover songs proved Costello is an able interpreter and student of music.
There are covers among his hits, of course: Nick Lowe's (What's So Funny About) Peace, Love and Understanding, and the Sam & Dave song, I Can't Stand Up for Falling Down.
But Saturday he dusted off some surprises. Prince's Purple Rain was well-received by the audience, but also in the mix were The Stones' Out of Time, and the touching tribute to the late Levon Helm, The Band's Tears of Rage.